Monday, August 18, 2014

New Pages Added

Please note that I have added some new pages to the site. On the Sale Items page, you can view items for purchase. All proceeds go to my ovarian cancer fundraiser.

If you own a business, I will write a blog entry about your business for a $150.00 donation and I will add you to my links and/or blog role for a $50.00 donation to my ovarian cancer fundraiser. 

Please consider donating. I am still less than half way to my goal.

Thank you all for your help.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Please Donate to My Cancer Fundraiser

I am raising money for ovarian cancer research through Fred's Team. When I decided to run the NY Marathon with Fred's Team back in March, it was with a mixed intention. I had always wanted to run the NY York Marathon, and I wanted to raise money for ovarian cancer research as my mother had  been treated successfully for it.

My selfish reasons for joining Fred's Team have vanished since learning that my mother has been diagnosed with recurrent ovarian cancer. She started feeling symptoms about 6 months after her initial treatment ended. You can read the prognosis here.

Please consider donating to my cancer fundraiser.  Thank you for your help and consideration.

My Mom and me near the end of her initial treatment in July, 2013.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Maastricht: A Tale of Two Pubs

I was completely knocked out from the flight on my first day in Maastricht. On the next day, some fellow cohort members told me of an Irish pub called, "Joey's". They pronounced the pub's name with an American accent as if someone from Kansas named, Joey, who thought he was Irish, had opened up a pub in Maastricht. I knew something did not sound right. So on my first free night, I headed over to "Joey's".

I got the directions from one of my friends and headed over to the pub. In a childish way, I was proud of myself for not getting lost in this new city. I walked down the street and nearly passed the entrance. Then I stopped and smiled. The pub was not "Joey's" after all, but "de Joie." Completely self-satisfied, and quite thirsty, I went inside.

The pub's owner explained that de Joie was not strictly an Irish pub, although it did clearly display the sale of Guinness. De Joie was more of a sports bar. The bar was relatively quiet around 19:30 when I arrived. But the atmosphere really picked up around 21:00 when the soccer game began. The place, which had been sparsely populated since I arrived, soon had standing room only. The owner and staff were very hospitable and provided great conversation for what must have been a very annoying tourist (a.k.a. myself), who would not stop asking questions about the political and cultural landscape of Maastricht.

The next night I did some research and went over to a more authentic Irish pub, John Mullins.

Mullins was very similar in feel to authentic styled Irish pubs in the U.S. If you have ever been to the Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., you would have a grasp of the general atmosphere. I visited Mullins three times during my stay.
My first visit was during the early evening, 17:00. At this time, it was quiet. I had the smoked salmon, which was exquisite. I ate so slowly because every piece of fish was amazing. It is also important to note that the portion was perfect and not the overly super-sized serving that one would receive in the U.S. Also, the price was not exorbitant.

Decent prices, incredible food and Guinness is the recipe for a great evening.

I could not speak highly enough of this pub, but I do have a funny side story. The week after I left Maastricht was St. Patrick's Day. I checked the website for Mullins to find that they had a big Irish party that was more Irish-American than Irish. It would be interesting to find how this American way of doing St. Patrick's Day made its way to the Netherlands.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Maastricht: The Basilica of Our Lady

The next topic I want to discuss concerning my trip to Maastricht is the Basilica of Our Lady. The basilica is attached to the Derlon Hotel and is seen below. The Derlon is the white building seen below to the left of the basilica.

This church is a Romanesque building and has a completely different feel from the Gothic styled cathedrals found in the United States. Gothic churches are noted for the light within them and the beautiful stained glass windows. Romanesque structures have a heavy feel due to the lack of light and the ever present stone.

I attended mass here on the first Sunday of my trip. It was difficult to pay attention to the ceremony due to the beauty of my surroundings. I also took note of the church goers, who were significantly different from their U.S. counterparts. All the Maastricht mass goers wore formal garb. The women and men all wore formal coats and scarves, and they all sat in the pews in a rigid and upright position as if they were "at attention."

I nearly had a complete disaster during mass. In the U.S., ushers go up and down the aisle to collect monetary donations during the offertory. U.S. mass goers either throw in paper money or checks. In Maastricht, a basket is passed around by the parishioners. As the basket reaches the end of one row, a parishioner turns around and passes it back to a person in the next pew. I was seated at the far left of the pew and had a large stone column behind me. I got up to take the basket from the nearest parishioner. As I grabbed the basket, I nearly dropped it. Expecting to receive a basket of paper money and checks, I was surprised to find that it seemed to weigh ten pounds because it was full of coin money.

One other item of note is the statue to Our Lady found at the basilica seen below. This statue opens up to square (plain) near the Derlon Hotel. The doors are always open and people continually file in and out lighting candles and praying before the Madonna.

Dr. Viktor Frankl

Dr. Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist. In the interview below, Dr. Frankl discusses how a human can withstand suffering without despair.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Maastricht: The Derlon Hotel Part II

I wanted to conclude my previous post on the Derlon by quickly discussing its owner, Benoit Wesly. Wesly was good enough to address my class at the beginning of my study-abroad classes at Maastricht University. Since our class stayed at his hotel and got to hear him speak, I thought I would discuss him here.

Wesly is the brother of an Auschwitz victim, is a native of Maastricht, and has many business and social connections in the United States. He lectures at many schools in the U.S. and has written a short memoir at the request of some of his students. The book entitled, "Nothing New" is not a braggadocios manuscript. It is a low-key discussion of Wesly's significant life events,business and personal lessons.

One of Wesly's discussions is very revealing about the differences between the U.S. consumer and the consumers in the Netherlands. Wesly explained that he loved to eat at Applebee's during his visits to the U.S. This inspired him to purchase a few franchises in order to bring Applebee's to the Netherlands. Wesly was sure his fellow countrymen would love it as much as he did.

The restaurants had initial success and popularity. But it was not long before Wesly became to realize that Applebee's business model did not work in the Netherlands. Americans eat far larger portions than the Dutch do. Usually, the Dutch sodas are sold in five or six ounce glasses instead of the U.S. twenty two ounce super-size. Also, their main course is more similar in size to the U.S. appetizer. This meant that an Applebee's in the Netherlands would have to serve a much larger number of people in order to make a profit. The customers were simply not spending enough money, and ordering as much food or drink, on each visit as their U.S. counterpart was doing.

Wesly attempted to explain the problem to Applebee's, but the food chain thought it knew better and would not alter its business model. Needles to say, the venture failed. This was not a happy portion of Wesly's book, but it did illustrate the necessity for adaptation and the need to take cultural differences into account.

Below is a short clip of Benoit Wesly.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Professional Boxer: Michael Pryor

My youngest brother, Michael, who is 15 years my junior, just had his first professional boxing match! I don't know why the boxer in the black trunks had such a hard time. I used to have no problem taking Michael down.

Enjoy the fight.Michael is the taller fellow in the gold trunks.

Beautiful Maastricht; The Derlon Hotel

I had the opportunity to visit Maastricht as part of the EMBA program with Benedictine College. Maastricht had never really been on my list of places I wanted to see. But after having been there, I can't imagine a  more beautiful and cultured place. Every street took my breathe away, and it seemed that every person was courteous and intelligent.

I do not have the time to write the paper length post that would be needed to describe this wonderfully beautiful city. I will simply write about my considerations of Maastrcht in multiple installments. I will consistently use the label "Maastricht" to connect the separate posts.

Below are some photos and commentary concerning the Derlon Hotel, the four star hotel that I stayed at in Maastricht.

The above nighttime shot gives a good feel for ambiance of the street. At times, the street and joining square are rather quiet. But more often than not, it is filled with people sitting at tables in the square to the right of the photo. There are also hundreds of people that visit the Basilica to Our Lady that is connected to the Derlon. All the streets in the old section of Maastricht are cobble-stoned and have a medieval feel. The medieval feel is not the result of decor only. Some of the buildings in this square are quite old. The Basilica was opened at around 1050. The Romanesque Church was absolutely breathe taking and will be the subject of a future post. The Derlon used to be owned by the Catholic Church and serviced the Basilica.